tv The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN August 13, 2009 4:00pm-6:38pm EDT
with this action which may or may not have been a mistake on your part, you derailed the conversation and brought heat upon yourself and your cause? >> i'm used to heat in the middle of tough issues and absolutely not. i would suggest that swastikas on the signs of members of congress' front door is probably a distraction. but what sheila jackson lee has done is not because sheila jackson lee has a consistent history of serving her constituents. >> okay. >> and i served that lady by having a town hall meeting that she could come to in the middle of the day. >> i get it. >> i look forward to working with you. >> we are out of time. congresswoman, very courageous of you to come on. i know it's a difficult thing. wolf blitzer is standing by. he, too, will be covering stories like this in "the situation room." rick, thank you. happening now, something the white house is doing raising some eyebrows out there. it involves health care reform and possibly your e-mail inbox. a convicted bomber seeks mercy. he's in prison for a notorious
terrorist act, the bombing of pan am flight 103, killing a lot of americans. now outrage. he may soon be set free after serving only about eight years. and plane down. it ditches in the middle of the sea, and a pilot stands on the plane as it sinks. you might not believe what happened next. one witness said, and i'm quoting now, i thought i'd witnessed death. i'm wolf blitzer in cnn's command center for breaking news, politics, and extraordinary reports from around the world. you're in "the situation room." they are the deciders but you're essentially the boss. right now the people who will decide how health care reform will pass are hearing from people who put them in office. and amid this make of braek month, lawmakers are attending town halls in places like kansas, new jersey, wisconsin, oklahoma right now. a senator in oklahoma who's also a doctor explaining his health
care prescription. meanwhile, check your e-mail. do you have a message from the white house about health reform and you kntcondition explain? our white house correspondent dan lothian has the story. >> reporter: wolf, what the white house is doing now, the latest push to try to explain what it believes are myths that are circulating about there among the public, and this is an e-mail that was sent out by david axelrod, who is a top adviser, a senior adviser for president obama. i have a copy of the e-mail here. very long e-mail. essentially what he's doing is trying to set the record straight. i just want to read some of the quotes from this e-mail where he says, quote, across the country we are seeing vigorous debate about health insurance reform.
now, the white house saying, in fact, a senior adviser tell megathat these e-mails went out to people who had signed up on the white house website to get any kind of e-mail alerts. now, they're also encouraging recipients of this e-mail to not just hang on to it but to start an e-mail chain, to forward it to other people so that they can spread the message out there. this is just yet another indication of the concern perhaps the frustration here at the white house that their message, the health care reform message, is getting lost in all of the noise. that's why you're seeing the president holding more town hall meetings and making this push out on the internet. >> i think he believes very strongly, as we talked about yesterday, that it's important to address misconceptions or misimpressions that have been left out there about the bills.
i do believe that the president feels strongly that when he makes his case it helps the case for overall health care reform. >> reporter: what we've seen in the last couple days, wolf, is the white house and spokesman robert gibbs in particular have been poking sort of fun at the media, perhaps even telling us that we've been focusing way too much on all of these very loud town halls that congressional leaders have been holding across the country and saying that, you know, it has not been productive when, in fact, they believe that those meetings only make up a fraction of these town halls that have been going on across the country and they believe that a lot of progress is being made out there, that the information is getting out there, and that some of these town hall meetings have been productive, wolf. >> already, dan. thanks very much. we're going to get back to you. while the white house may be e-mailing some of you, many of you are e-mailing members of congress. americans are literally flooding lawmakers with electronic messages about health care reform, so much so they're
overloading the right to your representative feature on the house of representatives website. house staff are warning that the website is simply running slower because of this increased traffic. a blue dog sweats out the dog days of summer, not just the temperature but heat over health care reform. we're talking about congressman mike ross. he's one of those blue-dog conservative democrats with a conservative district. he's a prime player, though, in the reform battle and he's getting an earful at a gathering today. let's go to cnn's congressional correspondent brianna keilar. she's in texarkana, texas, i take it on the board we are arkansas. what exactly is going on, brianna? >> reporter: congressman mike ross just told this roundtable of health care professionals, wolf, that he must be doing something right because he has the extremes from both parties upset with him. he, of course, is a blue-dog democrat, the head of the blue-dog democrats, and he is one of the blue dogs who stood up to house democratic leaders right before recess and said
just wait a minute. we are not going to arow you to move this health care reform bill out of a key committee unless you give us some of the things that we want. a couple of those things that they got, one, delaying a vote before the full house on health care until after the recess, until september. and the other thing, shaving $100 billion off of the overall price tag among some other concessions. but mike ross just asked a short time ago at this roundtable how the government is going to pay for this, and he said what he wants to see is leaning on the taxpayer as little as possible. >> i think the american people expect us to first squeeze all the inefficiencies out of the current health care system before we ask them to pay any more. but personally, i believe that if every american citizen is going to benefit from this there should be a shared sacrifice. you know, we all pay into social security. we all benefit from social security. we all pay into medicare.
we all benefit from medicare. and that's the direction that i believe that we should go if we -- if we, in fact, do health care reform. >> reporter: and as you can see from the inside of that meeting it's a pretty intimate sitdown situation. he's certainly getting some tough questions from these health care professionals. their point is, but they're certainly polite, wolf, we're expecting it could be a different story tomorrow. he has a big town hall event, a town hall event that could see somewhere in the neighborhood of 900 people, wolf. >> basically what he's saying is don't just tax the really rich as some liberal democrats are suggesting. everybody should pay a little bit to get this done. brian brianna, thanks. you've been talking to people there and we're going to be getting your reaction. that's coming up in a little bit. more from brianna keilar. she's on the road at the town hall. congressman ross, by the way, is one of those blue dogs who are being targeted by a new tv campaign.
it's a $12 million push in support of health care reform. a member of the coalition behind a new ad says it's designed to provide cover and support and credit to lawmakers who support president obama's ideas for reform. the 30-second ad is running for two weeks in states like arkansas, colorado, indiana, nebraska, and south dakota. let's go to jack cafferty. he's got "the cafferty file." hi, jack. >> hi, wolf. how you doing? in the midst of perhaps the most contentious national debate since the vietnam war, the one we're having about health care reform, president obama has nominated a paid consultant for burger king to be the nation's top doctor. can you spell tone deaf? dr. regina benjamin has been paid $10,000 since last year to serve on a scientific advisory board for the company that brings us the whopper and the bk triple stacker. according to the "washington times," burger king says the doctor was on the company's nutritional advisory panel,
which is meant to promote balanced diets and active lifestyle choices. the department of health and human services says dr. benjamin was advocating for food that is lower in salt and recommending that nutritional information appear on packaging. they add that she'll resign from burger king once she's confirmed by the senate as surgeon general and will continue, quote, to promote healthy eating and exercise, unquote. you want fries with that? but many are not seeing this as anything except a conflict of interest. after all, burger king is a fast food joint, right? and in a nation where one-third of our adults are obese, fast-food restaurants are not helping. since her nomination, drdr. dr. benjamin has won support from both sides of the aisle, especially for running a health clinic for the poor following hurricane katrina, but there's also been criticism. as we reported in "the cafferty file" last month, some think the president's selection of an overweight candidate for the nation's top doctor sends the
wrong message and now we find out she works for burger king. here's the question. go to cnn.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog. i should get a gold star, wolf, for getting through that with a straight face, almost. >> when was the last time you had a whopper? i haven't had one in years. >> i love whoppers. i had one a couple weeks ago. i love those. they're not good for you, but i love them. >> they have a lot of calories. >> yeah, but they're great. >> thank you. doctor's orders. i'll speak with two doctors with very different thoughts on health care reform. why does one support president obama's ideas and why does the other think those ideas are not very good? and many people have wanted to hear from her. we're talking about president obama's aunt. she's now speaking out, and we have details. and plane ditches in the middle of the sea, and the pilot stands on the plane as it sinks.
it's a hot question. will the united states be sending even more troops to afghanistan anytime soon? the defense secretary robert gates says there's no specific recommendation in an upcoming ground report from the u.s. military commander in afghanistan, general stanley mcchrystal. gates calls the current situation in afghanistan, and i'm quoting him now, a mixed
picture and says the immediate focus is security for the upcoming presidential election in afghanistan. >> some of the military operations that have taken place in the helmand province and other places in the south, it looks like more afghans will be able to vote than had been the case before the recent deployment of additional u.s. forces. an obviously that's an encouraging development. in terms of the overall security situation in the country, i believe the view of most of our military commanders is that we are looking at a mixed picture. in some parts of afghanistan, the taliban have clearly established a presence. >> there's only so much that can be done to turn around afghanistan without addressing a major source of the country's crime, corruption, and funding for the taliban. that would be the enormous drug trade. cnn's atia abawi has details of
the new plans and trying to crack down. atia. >> reporter: wolf, one major security threat that's often overlooked in afghanistan is the narcotics industry, a drug trade that has been fueling criminality and a corrupt government that many afghans fear more than the war between coalition forces and the taliban. now, the u.s. and nato have formed a new strategy in defeating the drug war in afghanistan. drug smuggling in the most ingenious ways. it's lucrative but deadly. over 90% of the world's opium is produced in afghanistan, and it's no secret that the trade has funded the insurgency and the killing of u.s. and coalition troops. but now in a report by the u.s. senate foreign relations committee, we are learning more about the drug trade in the country. cnn obtained a copy of this report which indicates that 367 major traffickers have been put on a kill or capture list.
50 of them major players who link drugs to the taliban. this new report reflects a major shift in the american counternarcotic strategy here. a bolder approach after years of relying on just poppy crop destruction. but the question remains -- how do you stop a drug trade that many believe is kept alive by corrupt government officials? rumors have even plagued afghan president hamid karzai about allegations of his own brother's involvement in the drug mafia. karzai says the rumors are not true. colonel kadeer is the chief of the counternarcotics police in helmand province, and he says his life is continuously threatened. >> translator: i am under a lot of pressure from corrupt people in charge because it will be their brother or tribal member who is arrested. so they try and make sure that they are released. >> reporter: the afghan counternarcotics teams in the country do not have enough strength in tackling this problem on their own.
they are getting assistance from coalition countries. >> i think it's basically a security situation. they're very competent and capable officers working down there. it's just the security area they need to work in is limited. >> reporter: but what has caught the eye of many in this new report is the fact that u.s. intelligence believes that al qaeda has little to no reliance on the drug money and that the taliban is actually getting less money from the drug trade than what many studies have suggested in the past. wolf? >> atia, thanks very much. atia abawi from kabul. we're digging deeper into the situation in afghanistan. as part of our reporting, our chief international correspondent christiane amanpour traveled to a remote corner of the country to visit an american woman trying to prevent some of afghanistan's 1 million orphans from falling prey to the taliban. >> reporter: in the mountains of
afghanistan, a young boy is cast out. and this is how the battle begins. >> translator: my mother was beating me a lot, and then she forced me to leave the house. >> reporter: naseem was just 10 years old when he fled the beatings and the abuse at home. you're just a little boy. it must have been so hard. >> translator: yes, it was very difficult. i was spending my days and nights here and there. >> reporter: for months, naseem wandered from village to village in search of food and shelter. he became a virtual slave to the townspeople. >> translator: i collected firewood from the mountains or building materials for their
homes. >> reporter: did you feel sad? >> translator: very sad. i shouldn't be in this condition. >> reporter: but things changed for him when he arrived in one town and met fareed, who worked for an american aid group called parsa. >> translator: he introduced me to the orphanage. >> reporter: here 150 boys sleep two to a bunk. they wake up to face each day trying their best to bring some semblance of order to their lives amid the desperation that is afghanistan. do you think that you're cracking the back of this? my guide inside this world is marney gustafsson, an american who grew up in afghanistan. >> give him permission to go on in. >> reporter: marney, who runs
the organization, has been rebuilding broken shelters in this broken country shattered by 30 years after war and hobbled by a government that's financially strapped. >> there are many parts of the world where conditions are equally poor, equally run down. >> reporter: why don't you think it's so important here to try and rescue these kids? >> i have a connection. if afghanistan is stabilized, my country will be stabilized. snoofr you have that. >> this country needs to be stabilized for our safety. >> christiane amanpour doing some extraordinary reporting for us. you can see much more of christiane's reporting later tonight. she reveals the struggle for the hearts around the minds of the next generation of muslims, "generation islam" we're calling it, tonight 9 p.m. eastern, 6:00 pacific only here on cnn. i think you'll want to watch it. a convicted terrorist may soon be released from prison, sparking outrage mongrel tifs of
his victims. what they are saying and the reason behind his potential freedom. this is a shocking story. plus, a well-known college basketball coach admits to an affair. now the school is speaking out. will the university of louisville stand behind him? ( siren blaring ) special interest groups are trying to block progress on health care reform, derailing the debate with myths and scare tactics. desperately trying to stop you from discovering that reform won't force you to give up your current coverage. you'll still be able to choose your doctor and insurance plan. tell congress not to let myths get in the way of fixing what's broken with health care. learn the facts at healthactionnow.org. of fixing what's broken with health care. how about a swim?
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fredricka whitfield is monitoring some other important stories incoming to "the situation room" right now. fred, what's going on? >> reporter: hello, wolf. hello, everyone. an entire town is forced to evacuate because of a wildfire burning in the santa cruz mountains south of san francisco. 2,400 people have fled their homes because of the fire which has now charred more than 2,300 acres. it started last night and it's now burning out of control with zero containment. and university of louisville is standing by basketball coach rick pitino who has publicly apologized for an extramarital affair six years ago. it has come to light now, because the woman is charged in federal court with trying to blackmail pitino. university president says pitino is, quote, our guy and it is time to move on. and no matter what kind of modern music you listen to, it likely would not even exist as you know it without this man,
les paul. he died today in white plains, new york, from complications with pneumonia. paul not only created the legendary guitar that bears his name, he also innovated other studio innovations that made possible the kind of music we all enjoy right now. les paul was 94 years old. wolf? he had a lot of talent, that guy. >> extraordinary. >> thanks very much. your doctor surely has an opinion on health reform, so we've asked two doctors to debate what's good about president obama's ideas on reform and what's not so good about them. that's coming up. and many people have wanted to hear from her, and now she's speaking out. we're talking about president obama's aunt. she's asked about a few topics sparking some controversy out there. quality and reliability... are more than words here. it's personal. i have diabetes. rodney's kid too. so we're so proud to manufacture... the accu-chek® aviva meters and test strips... here in the u.s.a. plus, we've proven you'll waste 50% fewer strips...
to our viewers, you're in "the situation room." happening now, the remains of a navy pilot, scott speicher, come home 18 years after he disappeared. a wrenching chapter now coming to a close. and a swimsuit under fire, but not for revealing too much. in fact, the opposite. the controversy behind what's being called the burqini.
i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." relatives of those killed in a horrifying terror attack more than two decades ago are now reliving the nightmare. they're agast that the man convicted of bringing pan am flight 103 down may soon be released from prison. cnn reports. >> reporter: it was december 1988, pan am flight 103 on its way from london to new york explodes over the scottish town of lockerbie, blown up by a bomb hidden in a suitcase. 270 people were killed. 11 of those residents of lockerbie. the bulk of the passengers on board pan am flight 103 americans on their way home for christmas. lockerbie from that moment on would forever be associated with one of the worst terrorist atrocities on british soil. it wasn't for another 13 years
that the man accused of the bombing was found guilty. abdel basset ali al megrahi, onetime security chief for libyan arab airlines, was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 27 years before he would become eligible for parole. even then, some relatives of the victims would say they weren't sure the right man was caught. >> i found the trial process confusing and quite difficult to understand because much of the evidence was circumstantial. so, while the court convicted him, his co-conspirator, who was his co-accused, was found innocent. and the fact of the matter is that megrahi could not have acted alone. >> reporter: megrahi has always maintained his innocence and is currently appealing his conviction for a seconds time. now diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer, he is also requesting release on compassionate grounds. a man whose daughter was killed at lockerbie says he should be allowed home but that his appeal must not be dropped.
>> the appeal to us seems to be the way to move forward towards the next stage to finding out what happened. for that to stop would be a disaster for us and for scotland in the long run. >> reporter: but others convinced of megrahi's guilt are appalled he might ever see freedom. >> this man killed 270 people. he's getting medical treatment in scot land. oh, so sad. why aren't you sorry for me? my daughter is dead. she was 20 years old. >> reporter: it's believed megrahi may have just months to live. his fate, though, still tears at the hearts of all those whose lives were wrecked by pan am 103's fatal last light. cnn, london. >> her story first came to light during the presidential campaign, then candidate barack obama's kenyan aunt living illegally in the united states. and now her immigration case is on appeal and she's breaking her silence for the first time in an interview with cnn affiliate
wkoyc in cleveland. here's reporter ramona robinson. >> think, there. >> ramona robinson. zeituni onyango has a quiet, unasouping presence as she enters the room at an undisclosed location. i can sense her hesitation to trust a reporter, even though relatives have told her i would be objective and treat her fairly. the 57-year-old kenyan-born aunt of president barack obama quickly flashes a smile when you mention his name. >> actually, it's phenomenal. actually, i really love my nephew, and i always pray for him. >> reporter: she clutches a double strand of costume pearls she says were a gift from her nephew when he visited his family in kenya in 1987. he also gave her a book, the constitution of the united states. and when asked, she said yes,
the president was born in hawaii. >> if my brother was in united states, in honolulu, hawaii, when barack was born, how could he not? and an american white woman. where was she? how could she have given birth back in kenya, surely. i don't understand this. >> reporter: she would see him a year later at a fund raiser in massachusetts where he autographed his latest book for her. onyango is very protective of her nephew, the president. she won't say whether she's spoken to him since her deportation trouble, and on the advice of her attorney, she will say little about her case. >> it's up to the judge. i can't talk about it. >> reporter: so, you're just waiting to see what's going to happen. >> exactly. >> reporter: onyango is a retired computer programmer who moved to the united states in
2000. today, she is ill, getting around with the help of a cane. but her spirits are lifted when she talks about the president's father, her late brother, who she says told her many times before he died that young barack was something special. >> before he died, he told me, barack is a really bright child. he asked me, sister, you know i have really bright children. and i said, yeah, they're all bright. then he puffed a little and told me, look. this guy will one day have my name out there. >> reporter: she says she had no idea then that he would become leader of the free world. >> that report from ramona robinson from our affiliate in cleveland wkyc. by the way, a federal immigration judge says president obama's aunt will be allowed to
remain in the country until next year. a hearing on her asylum case is scheduled for february. jack cafferty is asking what does it say that the president's nominee for surgeon general is a paid adviser to burger king? jack will be back shortly with your e-mails. and it's a dramatic airplane accident and rescue not like anything you've ever seen. a plane ditches in the sea. the pilot desperate for a rescue as the plane goes down. witnesses jumping quickly into action. medicare.
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contributors, democratic strategist donna brazile and republican strategist mary matal matalin. mary, david axelrod, senior adviser to the president, pens out a lengthy e-mail, i've got a copyright here, a lot of links, a lot of information, misinformation that's out there on the internet he says he wants to try to correct it. he says, you know what, take this e-mail and forward it to your friends and your neighbors so this message gets out. is there anything wrong with that? >> well, i don't know if it's illegal. you're not supposed to use federal property for political purposes. it's a political document. it's a political tactic. but leaving that aside, i don't even know how effective it is just because it can get viral doesn't mean that anybody will believe it. people who tend to go to those sources are people who are already for you. but it is indicative of where they think they are in this fight. >> part of that base of the white house supporters, it does provide a lot of information. talking points for them to use at these town halls and to use in their debates with their neighbors and friends.
>> i think we're past that point. donna encouraged us to read it. i went and read it. very boring. thanks for make me waste a day. people who want the information, those undecided, will read the bill and it doesn't comport in every instance with what the president and axelrod and everybody out there is saying. so, those who are going to make the difference, the undecideds, are not going to believe what the white house puts out. this is a political tactic. >> i assume the legal office over at the white house, the legal adviser to greg craig and his team, went through and vetted this and made sure it was legal for david axelrod to do this, assuming he did do that, that they checked out the legality of all of that. but some of the president's supporters have said to me today when they got this, what took them so long? what are they waiting for? >> wolf, i didn't receive mine in the mail yet, so maybe it might be in my spam folder, but i believe this e-mail is a very important document. first of all, it corresponds to the legislation that's been introduced, and some of the legislation up on capitol hill.
it helps voters get the information they need to make an informed decision. there's nothing wrong with this. this is not political. this is a public policy document that helps to just put the facts on the table and hopefully take some of these lies off the sheet. >> there's a new gallup -- "usa today" gal up poll, tracking poll, 1,000 americans asked this question -- how do you feel about protesters' views since d disdisturbances have started at these town hall meetings? are these protests at these town halls which have received this week a lot of coverage, are they worth it? >> well, i think if the white house or the democratic national committee hadn't called these congregants, if you will, political congregants un-american mobs and sent -- >> the white house and the dnc did not call them that. >> okay. well, nancy pelosi and --
>> she said some of the activities were -- >> but we live in this world where it got translated and there were many democrat who is called them mobs. you turn on the tv and you see seniors and stay-at-home moms and people who were previously apolitical, and you had them on here. so, there is no greater persuasive tactic to a voter than somebody else that looks like them that they know isn't a spinner for either side. so, yes, it's effective in putting the debate back out there at a minimum and to a positive probably slowing it down and stopping some of the more egregious expansions of government that are in there. >> has it been effective? >> well, first of all, i believe in the right to protest and to assemble. i've organized a lot of pretss in my lifetime. >> your life. we know you have. >> clearly, my hands are not clean. but let me say this. there are a lot of american who is just want to go and get the facts. they're there to listen to their members of congress. they want to know how this bill will impact their lives and their pocketbooks.
and there's no reason why we should break out into fights and arguments because we're talking about proposed legislation. this legislation has not passed. >> you agree that there shouldn't be any swastikas and stuff like that painted, you know, on -- >> i also disagree with the characterization that this is some right-wing craziness that is doing that, and i also disagree, and i think it backfires on them, the obama tactics to say that this is all just a bunch of organized astroturf right-wingery. it is not. >> because there have been some very thoughtful questions that have been raised at these town halls, tough questions, but that's what they're supposed to do to their lawmakers. >> when the head of republican congressional campaign committee basically says the days of polite town hall meet rgs over when many of the conservative organizations put out press releases telling people to go out there and disrupt these meetings, that's when people say, hey, come on, we can have a conversation, we can have a civil conversation. >> we'll continue our civil
conversation in the next hour. >> we are civil. >> don't go away. thank you. doctor's orders. i'll be speaking with two doctors with very different thoughts about health care reform. why does one support president obama, the other one not so much? that's coming up. and too little clothing at the pool apparently is not the problem. but too much clothing is. a woman is banned apparently because her outfit is covering too much. between an environment at ri o and an environment in balance. between consuming less and conserving more. there is one important word: how.
and it is the how that makes all the difference. to the planet we all share. not playing with the kids? not on these legs. poor leg circulation. doctor says it's p.a.d. peripheral artery disease? hmmm. more than doubles your risk for a heart attack or stroke. so i hear. better ask your doctor about plavix. plavix can help protect you from a heart attack or stroke. plavix helps keep blood platelets from sticking together and forming clots, the cause of most heart attacks and strokes. my cousin the m.d. call your doctor about plavix. (male announcer) if you have a stomach ulcer or other condition that causes bleeding, you should not use plavix. when taking plavix alone or with some other medicines including aspirin, the risk of bleeding may increase so tell your doctor before planning surgery. and, always talk to your doctor before taking aspirin or other medicines with plavix, especially if you've had a stroke. if you develop fever, unexplained weakness or confusion, tell your doctor promptly as these may be signs
all right. you've heard what lawmakers are thinking about the health care reform debate. but what about your own doctor? amid all this debate, we've asked two doctors to join us. from rochester, new york, nancy nielsen is the former president of the american medical association. and from boston, dr. daniel palistrant, a neurosurgeon. he's been on capitol hill twice in the last month speaking with lawmakers about health care. dr. nielsen, let me start with you. the ama supports what the president is trying to do and you're working aggressively to make sure this bill, whatever
emerges, passes congress. am i right? >> you are. we certainly support the goals of covering everyone and reducing costs and getting better value for our health care dollar. so, yes, we do support those goals. >> what's wrong with that, doctor? do you think the am sashgs misguided? >> well, i think physicians in this country have been long proponents of health care reform, but physicians are also in a unique position, after all. they're on the front lines of health care and they have some strong perspectives as to what will actually constitute real health care reform. the physicians, the 110,000 physicians on our website have been very consistent about what's actually needed to do true health care reform, and they point out very consistently that very lit until this bill actually addresses that. >> when you say "very little," what else do you want in this bill that's not there? >> well, in the last several weeks we've seen tens of thousands of physicians weighing in, and the model, we authenticate and credential each physician so we know each one is, in fact, a licensed u.s.
physician -- >> just give me an example of what you want in the bill that's not there. >> well, the physicians have outlined four things. the first tort reform. the second one is insurance reform. the third one is transparency in pricing, which would be to remove current billing coding system. and the fourth is a reengineering of the payment and equation that's sought to be overly complex and arbitrary. >> do you have a problem, dr. nielsen weath, with any of ? >> not at all. i think the details we may differ on, but, in fact, those goals are ones we would certainly share. >> do you support, dr. nielsen, what's called the government option, the public option where there would be a government-run insurance company, in effect, that would compete with a private insurance companies like blue cross & blue shield or aetna, some of these other private companies? >> we have some reservations about what's been called the public plan but we await the final defining of what that's
going to be. it's our understanding that in the senate it may come out as more of a co-op purchasing capability, and that we would not have as much trouble with. the reality is what we want is we want people to have access to affordable health insurance. and we certainly don't want government-run health care. there's no question about that. we do want insurance market reform so that people are not denied because of pre-existing conditions. >> you heard dr. nielsen say she doesn't have a problem with the stuff that you want added to this legislation. so, are you in the ama now on the same page? >> well, i think that that's part of the challenge of the public option. on the surface, it would seem to be the best of both worlds. you've got people who like their insurance can keep it, those who don't can choose this public option. the problem is that it's pure fiction. the cbo has come out and said there's no cost savings in this. the 11,000 physicians on our website who voted on this said
it doesn't address the underlying health problems. the other underlying problems are causing inflation in health care costs. i'm delighted to hear dr. nielsen would support the fourth platform that the community is making, but i'm a little bit confused because not one of those items is even mentioned in this reform bill. it's a thousand-page reform bill. >> you're talking about the house version that henry waxman's committee supported. but that's open to a lot of revision in this legislative process, dr. nielsen, because the senate has very different ideas, including eliminating completely that so-called public option. so, what i hear you saying, and i want you to address, dr drdr. dr. palestrant, is you want to see him go with the final changes. >> we do, and some of them we've already seen. there is an amendment that addresses not as robustly as we would like but at least addresses the issue of tort reform. that is an issue for every doctor in the country. >> explain to our viewers what
tort reform is. doctors are so nervous about being sued that very often they order all sorts of tests that aren't really need bud they sort of just do it to protect themselves in case there's a lawsuit down the road. what you're saying is there should be limits on these lawsuits. is that what you're saying, dr. nielsen? >> well, we have to address that, wolf, there's no question, because the issue of excessive cost is very real. we have to do something about that in this country, and we know that there are significant costs of defensive medicine, because doctors are afraid of being sued because they get sued. and so, it's a real problem. >> do you agree, doctor? >> again, i applaud dr. nielsen, who's ban longtime advocate of reform, health insurance reform and physician -- physician rights. but what i'm puzzled by is that this bill -- this is a thousand-page bill that came out, took 21 members of the ama board of trustees 36 hours to endorse this. those things weren't even
mentioned. there was no mention of malpractice reform. the real question was what was in it for ama to endorse this? >> let's ask dr. nielsen. why did the ama support the house version? >> well, you make a good distinction, and i need to make sure that the audience understands the distinction between endorse and support. we did, in fact, endorse the major thrust of hr-3200, recognize tling that there were going to be changes. why? for one, the payment system under which physicians are paid for medicare services is totally outmoded and is a serious problem that causes us to go back to congress every year. congress doesn't like it. they know it doesn't work. and this bill would, in fact, have essentially poured concrete into that hole. and we could have gone forward together in a different way. so, that's one of the big things. there's -- >> actually, doctor -- >> let me ask -- >> very quickly, doctor, because
we're out of time. >> the payment mechanism that you heralded is the big ama victory, the repeal of the sgr formula. that's been removed in the latest versions so the claim that the ama had on behalf of physicians is no longer in the bill so it's left physicians wondering why did the ama endorse this. 11,000 physicians voted. 94% of physicians who voted said they don't endorse this bill. it would seem that the ama is fundamentally out of step with the physicians in this country. >> all right. we're going to have to leave it on that note but it's a good point and we'll continue this discussion. i'd like to have both of you back to continue this discussion. remember, this legislation is working its way through the house and then the senate, then there will be a joint house/senate conference committee. plenty of time over the next several weeks and months for major changes you would both like to see and we'll catch it closely. thanks for coming in. >> thanks, wolf, for having us. >> thank you. fighting heats up ahead of
let's check in with jack for "the cafferty file." question this hour -- walt in california -- it's actually possible to get reasonably nutritious meals at fast food places. it's not her fault if the family chooses the whopper, as you seem to enjoy, over the healthier options that are now available. brandon in washington --
if you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at cnn.com/caffertyfile. look for yours there among hundreds of others. wolf? >> jack, thank you. to our viewers, you're in "the situation room." happening now, a test of wills in afghanistan as taliban insurgents try to intimidate voters. u.s. troops are fighting to convince afghans it's safe enough to cast their ballots. whipped by fierce winds, a fast-moving wildfire has tripled in size within a few hours. it now threatens hundreds of homes in california. and amid all those angry outbursts at health care town halls, is the obama administration ready to settle for something less than full reform? i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." allied troops are paying a growing price in afghanistan as they try to secure some of the
upcoming elections there. a u.s. service member was killed today in a direct fire attack according to nato, and three british soldiers died in a roadside bombing. u.s. marines are in helmand province where taliban fighters are trying to intimidate voters. live to cnn's pentagon correspondent, chris lawrence. he's watching this test of wills. what's going on, chris? >> reporter: there is a real race against time going on to open more polling place and convince the afghan voters it's safe enough to cast their ballots. on one side, 17 million registered voters. >> there are obviously adverse circumstances. >> reporter: security rehearsals are under way for next week's vote. afghan positions will take up positions closest to the pollings. american troops will hang back read zi to respond if there's
trouble. >> there is a tiered security arrangement so, i think the potential is there for a quite credible election. >> reporter: the taliban controlled much of helmand province and through intimidation or outright violence could exert huge influence over who votes there. one analyst who supports the administration's strategy says the taliban are now being continue fronted. >> for too long we ignored it and now we're trying to get the situation back under control. >> reporter: u.s. marines have been in fierce battles this week trying to secure villages in helmand and convince afghans it's safe to vote. american military officials say the political activity is greater than it's ever been. >> the other thing that you see now is one candidate's making speeches, having rallies, posters all over the place. >> reporter: but a united nations report finds violence as severely limbing freedom of movement for candidates and supporter, hampering their
ability to campaign np and the u.n.'s top envoy says security threats will keep some afghans from voting. how many we won't know until election day. and as for an actual winner, that may be a longer wait. >> we aren't going to know on the evening of august 20th who won. cnn is flu shot going to call this election. >> reporter: if none of the four candidates get at least 50% of the vote, there could be a runoff election in the fall and that could mean several more months of american troops and afghan forces diverted from their normal security operations. we veal to see about a cnn prediction, wolf. >> see what happens on that front. thanks very much, chris lawrence. just getting word a jury has returned a verdict in the case of a texas school official charged with organizing late-night fights between mentally disabled students. this is a story that shocked a lot of folks. let's go to cnn's ed lavandera. he's joining us with more on
what they're calling this fight club. what happened, ed? >> reporter: just to kind of refresh everyone's memory about this, back in march a cell phone in corpus christi, texas, was discovered with about 20 videos. prosecutors say that video essentially showed students at this living center for mentally disabled young people essentially forced into what they describe as a fight club. they say that employees at the school had essentially forced these students to fight themselves and it was done as entertainment for them in the words of one of the prosecutors. one of the employees at the school has been found guilty this afternoon of causing injury to a disabled person. jesse salazar, agent 26, he faces up to ten years in prison. and we understand the penalty phase of that trial is now under way. he is one of six employees at the school, wolf, who have been charged in the fallout of this case. >> what about the other five defendants? >> so far two others have pleaded guilty in the weeks leading up to this.
this is the first case that has actually gone to trial. we're still awaiting to see if the other four will plead out as well. officials in corpus christi say other indictments could come down against other employees at the school, as well. >> thanks very much, ed lavandera, joining us from our bureau in dallas. jack cafferty has "the cafferty fil file". >> wolf, medical care for the terminally ill is a controversial aspect of health care reform that hasn't gotten a lot of attention yet. president obama raised the issue in an interview last tril pretty well when he was talking about his grandmother's final days. he said that his 86-year-old grandmother wound up having a hip replacement done during the final weeks of her life after already being diagnosed with terminal cancer. the president didn't say -- he said he didn't know how much the surgery costs. he said he would have paid for it out of his pocket because it was his grandmother. he also said that if someone had told him that he couldn't have that hip replacement and have to suffer even more during the last days of her life, quote, that would be pretty upsetting,
unquote. but the president added, that's where you just get into some very difficult moral issues. his words. when decidesing what medical treatment to give to terminally ill patients. the president suggested that chronically ill and elderly account for as much as 80% of our national health care costs. it's certainly a tricky moral question to say the at least least on an intellectual level. it might be one thing to say it doesn't make sense for a country to spend so much on people who are dying but on a personal level if it's your loved one suffering a that's a whole different issue, isn't it? here's the question. go to cnn.com/caffertyfile, post a comment on my blog. 80%, wolf. a lot of money. >> already, jack. thanks very much. let's check in with fredricka whitfield. she's monitoring some other important stories incoming to "the situation room" right now. fred, what's going on?
>> reporter: all seven suspects charged with murdering a couple who adopted 13 special-needs children pleaded not guilty. grand jury indictments in the killings of byrd and melanie billings were handed down earlier this week and all seven defendants could face the death penalty. surveillance cameras captured the july 9th heist showing men dressed as ninjas and wearing masks entering then leaving the sprawling house in less than four minutes. 18 years after being shot down on the first night of the 1991 gulf war, the remains of navy michael "scott" speicher are back home in florida. just a short time ago, speicher's casket arrived at a naval air base in jacksonville. defense officials originally declared speicher killed in action, but ten years later his status was changed to missing in action. early this month, the pentagon disclosed that bones and skeletal fragments recovered at the crash site had been positively identified as belonging to speicher.
and the glittery glove that inspired countless copies after michael jackson wore it during a 1983 appearance is hitting the auction block. the glove was first worn by the pop star when he unveiled his moon walk during the broadcast of motown's 25th anniversary special. everyone remembers that. it will be sold to the highest bidder at the november 21st auction at the hard rock cafe in new york's times square. and finally, talk about entertainment, a popular mexican band performed live during an airline flight from mexico to los angeles. the passengers included 33 contest winners and their guests. the concert ended, however, when the flight entered usair space because american authorities do not allow concerts on airplanes. wolf? looked like a lot of fun. >> got to listen to that. >> that's right. memor
memorex, not live. >> thanks very much, fred. senators say they'll put an end to the end of life counseling provision. can a controversial proposal survive the harsh debate over health care reform? i'll speak about that and more with a key member of the obama team. and word that dick cheney is putting together a tell-all book in which he'll take on former president george w. bush. paul begala and mary matalin are standing by live. and a woman banned from a public pool for wearing too much clothing. bicycle, i've missed you.
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many of the angry outbursts as those health care town hall meet rgs triggered by concerns over a proposed government-run insurance plan, the so-called public option, this public option would presumably allow the government-run insurance agency to compete with the private insurance companies. is the obama administration having some second thoughts about this? joining us is linda douglas, communications director for the white house office of health reform. linda, thanks for coming in. >> thanks for having me. >> is the president ready to accept a compromise that would remove this so-called public option from the agenda? >> well, certainly not going to negotiate this right here, wolf. what the president has said clearly and consistently is he wants to make it possible for people to have choices, to have lower costs, to produce competition in the insurance
market. that's the reason he talks about the public option. that would be an option available to people who don't have insurance or who are underinsured. they could go out into the marketplace where there are some private plans and there would also be a low-cost public plan that would help, you know, increase competition, provide choices that are simply not available today. >> but if there's no desire in the senate, no opportunity to support that public option as a compromised proposal being offered that would be cooperative around the country, let me repeat the question -- would that be okay with the white house zm. >> like i said, i'm not going to negotiate this with you, wolf. as you've seen, the house has produced a bill that has a public option. one of the senate committees has produced a bill with a public option. we understand that the senate finance committee is looking at the co-op proposal that you described, which is an idea which they say would increase competition and lower costs. we haven't seen the details of what they're actually proposing. so, we have to take a look at it and see what it is. >> but you are open to that
co-op proposal. >> well, we have to see what it is. the president's goals are very, very clear. it's got to lower costs, got to increase competition, it's got to keep the insurance companies honest, get the private insurance companies to get in there and compete for your business. that's the goal. we'll see if this does that. >> our cnn contributor paul begala, democratic strategist, wrote a piece in "the washington post" in which he made the case to the left to the liberal part of the democratic party. you know what, don't hold this up because you want perfection. he said this. he said, we cannot achieve perfection in this life and if that is our goal we will always be frustrated. the question is not whether i or other progressives will support a health reform bill that includes everything we want but, rather, whether we will support a bill that doesn't. is that goods advice from paul begala? >> well, paul begala is always a very smart fellow. but right now what's going on is a very robust discussion about what kind of health reform legislation the congress will produce that is built upon the president's principles that would lower cost, not add a
penny to the deficit, protect every american from unfair insurance regulations that deny you coverage if you get sick, all of the bills that are emerging right now, four out of five of the bills are built upon those principles and the final bill appears to be going in exactly that direction. there's agreement on 80 perles of the provisions between all of these bills right now. we are absolutely closer than we've ever been and we're confident we'll have success when congress returns and finishes working out the differences over the final provision. >> did the white house make a secret deal with pharma, the pharmaceutical lobby here in washington that would limit how much cost reductions they would have going forward over the next ten years? >> here is what happened. the white house, the pharmaceutical industry, the senate finance committee agreed that the pharmaceutical industry would contribute $80 billion over ten years of very, very substantial sum of money, that would lower to high cost of prescription drugs for seniors
who are paying exorbitant costs of prescription drugs. that was a crucial piece of this deal. as well as other steps thelds take to disclosure cost. it's an $80 billion agreement. that's what the white house, the senate finance committee, and pharma have agreed to and the final details are being worked out with the senate finance committee. >> did pharma, in exchange, make a promise of $150 million to pay for advertising to help the president's plan go forward? >> what you have, wolf, is this deal that is $80 billion. and we are very pleased, obviously, that the pharmaceutical industry agrees with us that there's an urgent need for comprehensive health insurance reform that's going to protect americans from unfair rules from rising costs. they agree with that. they've agreed with it from the beginning. that's why they came to us and we worked out this agreement with the pharmaceutical industry, and they're supporting health reform legislation and that is good for the country. >> so, is part of the deal that they would support this legislation, go forward with $150 million in advertising? >> you know, wolf, part of the
agreement here is that we're all going to work together to bring comprehensive health reform. clearly, the pharmaceutical industry said we are going to support comprehensive health reform, and that's what they're doing. >> what about the concern that some like henry waxman on the house side have raised that this would restrict the ability, for example, to import cheaper drugs from canada, for example? is that part of the deal? >> you know, there was a conversation in which there was a discussion about many of the proposals that have to do with the need to reimport drugs from other countries because our drug costs are so high. and one of the discussions was that this is, you know, no particular part of the agreement but one of the discussions was, well, maybe this won't be necessary because drug prices are going to be lower under comprehensive health reform. so, drug prices are going to go down. and if drug prices are going to go down, maybe some of these olds debates that we've had in the past over how to solve the prices, the rising prices of pharmaceuticals, won't be necessary anymore. >> the senate, at least some
members of the senate finance committee, saying they're going to remove what's in the house language, the end of life provision to provide counseling for living wills and for hospices, stuff like that. is that okay if that revision, which some of the critics call death panels, if that's removed from the final version? is that okay with you? >> you know, first of all, the notion of death panels is such a shocking phrase to be used in the context of health insurance reform. it is so cruel to seniors to be talking in these terms when what the house of representatives has in their bill is a provision that would make it possible for seniors to seek voluntary, professional advice about end-of-life decisions such as a living will. we've heard what's being reported, what you said about the senate finance committee, don't have any information on how they're going to proceed along those lines yet. that's something we've seen in the media. so, you know, the most important thing now is that people have the truth about the provision that is in the house bill, which, again, would just be
strictly voluntary and make it possible for seniors to get information about very, very -- a very difficult time in life when it's hard to talk to your family when you want to think these things through and you might want some professional advice. >> tell us about david axelrod's e-mail that was sent out, because some of your critics are saying this is inappropriate for a senior adviser to the president to be sending out what he hopes will emerge as viral e-mail. >> well, you know, the white house has been getting tens of thousands of e-mails from citizens. they have questions about everything that their government does. but they're certainly looking for information about health reform legislation and they're struggling with high costs, as they're struggling with unfair insurance regulations. and what this e-mail does is first of all tell them what kind of changes will be in the law to protect them from these unfair regulations and it also talks about some of these myths that are out there, some of these completely untrue stories that people are receiving in viral e-mails. and one of the best ways to communicate with people out in the country with questions is to send an e-mail and that's what
we did monopoly. >> linda douglass, communications director for the white house office of health reform. you have a tough job, linda. thanks for joining us. >> thanks, wolf. a plane ditches off the coast of ireland and the pilot stands on the plane as it sinks. you might not believe what happened next. also, firefighters are struggling to slow down a very fast-moving wildfire stretch threatening hundreds of homes in california. 90s slacker hip-hop. ♪ singer: buckle up, everybody 'cause pu're taking a ride ♪ ♪ that can strain your relationships and hurt your pride ♪ ♪ it's the credit roller coaster ♪ ♪ and as you can see it kinda bites! ♪ ♪ so sing the lyrics with me: ♪ when your debt goes up your score goes down ♪ ♪ when you pay a little off it goes the other way 'round ♪ ♪ it's just the same for everybody, every boy and girl ♪ ♪ the credit roller coaster makes you wanna hurl ♪ ♪ so throw your hands in the air, and wave 'em around ♪ ♪ like a wanna-be frat boy trying to get down ♪ ♪ then bring 'em right back to where your laptop's at... ♪ ♪ log on to free credit report dot com - stat! ♪ vo: free credit score and report with enrollment in triple advantage. what's in it for me? i'm not looking for a bailout,
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firefighters are battling a fast-moving wildfire that's threatening some 250 homes near santa cruz, california. 600 have been forced to evacuate and authorities say high winds have tripled the size of the fire in just a few hours. let's go to our meteorologist chad myers, who's watching this. how bad is it, chad? >> you know what, it's just growing now because the firefighters are having a very hard time getting into this difficult the terrain just south of san francisco. there's san jose. i'll make this a lot bigger for you. this is monterey bay here, and this is the fire. in fact, satellite can pick up hotspots on the earth, and that's what this satellite right here is seeing. so, what kind of conditions are we seeing basically at this point? the winds are still gusting.
they were gusting yesterday afternoon. they died off last night. they were good this morning, like five miles per hour. but now they are coming back. so, there you go. that's 12 miles per hour. bakersfield at four miles per hour. you can deal with that. when you get winds that are really much too strong, what happens is we begin to take this fire and roll it up mountains. when you roll the fire up the mountain, it will be just like turning a match upside down. it burns a lot faster. it burns up the hill, wolf, and then all of a sudden the sparks can actually fly off the top of the mountain and into the residential areas here that are just south of where this fire is. winds have been blowing out of the north for most of the day. here's a live shot from our affiliate. i'm trying to read that. affiliate kron tv. smoke everywhere. what i have noticed about this smoke, wolf, is it's been white smoke, not black smoke. when you burn a structure, when you burn a car, that's when the smoke turns black.
this has been a wild land fire for most of its lifetime. but there are still structures close and there are obviously people out of their homes tonight. >> chad, thank you. things were looking grimd for the pilot of a small plane forced to ditch off the coast of ireland, but what seemed a hopeless situation suddenly turned around. bill ray smith has the story. >> reporter: when will saw a plane ditch in the irish sea, he could barely believe his eyes. >> just saw a plane crash. >> reporter: but the rowers attempted to investigate and found not only a plane but the pilot who survived. >> are you all right? i saw you. i saw you. i'm amazed you're still alive. >> reporter: after making a mayday call to the coast guard, they tried their own rescue attempt, which failed. fortunately, a helicopter was on its way and just in time.
>> the helicopter's two minutes! >> reporter: as it arrived, the speed wing aircraft which pilot john o'shaughnessy had been flying from wales to westford was disappearing under his feet. thanks to the relatively calm conditions, the winch man was able to pluck him from the wreckage. the pilot escaped with a few scratches to his head. if the roars hadn't seen the crash, it could have been a very different story. >> good to see you. >> reporter: the roars hoped that breaking the britain record have now been dashed but they say they didn't give it a second thought when it came to saving a man's life. phil ray smith, news at 10. >> what a lucky guy that is. what a story that is. thanks to phil for reporting it. will taxpayers pick up the
health care tab for illegal immigrants? a hot button issue at those angry town hall meetings. senior political correspondent, candy crowley is standing by live. and is dick cheney ready to publicly criticize his former boss? the former president george w. bush. paul begala and mary matalin are stand big to discuss that and a lot more. and president obama's pick for surgeon general of the united states, the nation's top health adviser. she has been an adviser to a fast-food chain. (announcer) this is nine generations of the world's most revered luxury sedan. this is a history of over 50,000 crash-tested cars... this is the world record for longevity and endurance. and one of the most technologically advanced automobiles on the planet. this is the 9th generation e-class. this is mercedes-benz.
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you're in "the situation room." happening now, terrorism. thourgs in scotland are considering releasing the only person conntinu convicted of th 103 bombing. relatives of the 270 people who died are outraged. also, foreclosure nightmare. we've got the story of one family ordered out of their home but later left on the hook for property taxes and other expenses when the bank simply walked away from the foreclosure. what happened? is it legal? it's apparently a lot more common than you think. and surviving a plane crash.
a team of investigators are now looking into how you could walk away from even the most horrific air disaster. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." from kansas to new jersey and from wisconsin to oklahoma, they're holding town hall meetings today for lawmakers. it's a make-or-break month for health care reform. one hot-button issue, who will pay for illegal immigrants' health care? listen to this. >> illegal aliens will not be in this bill. period, the end. >> all right. i want to talk to candy crowley, our senior political correspondent. ben cardin, the democratic senator from maryland, he was firm. no assistance for illegal immigrants in the united states, about 12 million of them. what have you learned?
>> senator grassley also very firm republican, this will not be in the bill. in fact, it's not in any of the bills now. now, here's the question. when the president says he wants to cover everyone and recruits that 40 million to 50 million people unemployed, about 0 million to 12 million are non-u.s. citizens, so the question is when they go to an emergency room somewhere, they're going to get treated. what i'm hearing out there is people saying, well, right, we don't want to pay for people who aren't citizens. on the other hand, don't we end up paying for it after all? so, it's a very hot issue out there. but there is no bill at this point that covers non-u.s. citizens. >> you've been speaking to doctors out there. a lot of us have. but what are you hearing? >> well, you know, whether it's here in iowa where they approach you, as you know, anyone who's got a vested interest in health care reform, and that's pretty much everybody, the doctors in particular seem split. you know, there's this organization called surmo.com, a sort of website for doctors to discuss the hard cases, talk to
each other, dismissed by the american medical association as not really representing that many doctors. but when you look on their website, there are plenty of doctors writing in who do not like this bill, who feel that the ama has sold out, that the ama endorsement of the obama administration doesn't keep in mind what doctors face daily. chief among their complaints, that there is nothing in any of these bills that deals with malpractice insurance. they say, you know, here's the president, he's out there, talks at a news conference and says well, you know, if you charge by service, then maybe you have a surgeon who gives someone a tonsillectomy because it pays. they say, you know, no, we do many of these tests because of malpractice, because they want to make sure that there's nothing in that record that says they didn't do everything. so, they think malpractice tort reform has to go with health care reform and there's nothing in any of these bills. >> can still be added. still plenty of time to add that. don't go away. i want to bring in our two cnn political contributors, paul
bela ga and mary matalin. paul, you had a piece in "the washington post" today among other things on the op-ed page, you wrote, "i carry a heavy burden of regret from my role in setting the bar too high the last time we fried fundamental health reform. i helped set the bar at 100%, guarantee every american, and after our failure it's taken us 15 years to start all over again." you were referring to the failure the first year of the clinton administration to get health care reform because you wanted it to be perfect. >> right. that was one of the many reasons it collapsed. fundamentally it collapsed because democrats didn't stick together, didn't come on board. the american people gave us the keys to the kingdom, the house, the senate, the white house. we were unable to deliver. and guess what? the wrath of the voters was vied upon my party in 199 this 4 in an electoral debacle for my party. i think democrats today are a whole lot wiser for that experience, and the progressive community, of which i am a part, we're really quite insistent on
a public option, on covering people, but most importantly these insurance reforms that will protect us from getting dumped if -- the insurance companies can't dump us anymore if we get sick. but there's a level of pragmatism in the progressive community that is lacking in the conservative movement where they're off the rails and calling people nazis and racists and crazy stuff. i'm impressed that the left has been so responsible in this debate, and i'm part of the left. >> i know you're impressed. also how response tible the lef has been, mary? >> yeah. okay. do you ever get through any analysis without taking a zing at the right? >> no, no. >> they're real people like they're real people at the tea parties and you've taken too much of a burden on yourself. the reason that universal health care and the expansive government it would require has failed not just in the clinton white house but for 60 year, it's always been at the heart of the utopian socialist movement,
it's because american people don't want it. they don't want that much government. they want targeted reform that speaks to affordability and choice and quality and cost but they don't want, certainly not your fault for setting the bar so high any more than it was bismarck's fault that we don't like it over here and haven't been able to pass it for 60 years. but it's not being stopped by the republicans. >> to the core of what you're saying, i think the art of politics is wanting what you want not getting what you want. he will get something. it may be incremental. it's not going to look like what he wants. it's pretty clear, what mary is saying, in the polls that you are not talking about 5% of crazy people out there, not at the town hall meetings, not anywhere, because we are seeing split after split in the polls saying we don't want this. so, that has to be taken seriously by the sheer numbers of it and it means that i think the president has to take less. and i think they understand that. that's -- no president gets
everything he wants. >> here's the difference. the president is moving on this, the house and senate democrats are movinging on it. i'm optimistic. one analyst got access to a strategy call from these tea party activists, american citizens, great patriots. you know what they said on their own call? they don't want any reform at all. they want insurance companies to be able to continue to dump people for the crime of getting sick, discriminate on asian gender. apparently behind closed doors. >> this is why polls today showshow ed independents are 2 to 1 in favor because these are not wild-eyed, crazy people going to this. they're not extremists. if there are any people that are organized and they're organizing on the right and the left but it's the main sort of independents that are against this. >> let me make a turn because i think there's two other subjects i really want to get to and pick your brain. on dick cheney, the former vice president of united states, the man, mary, you once worked for.
you saw that front-page story in "the washington post" today saying he's ready to go public in disagreements with his former boss, george w. bush. i'll read a line from the article. the implication was that bush had gone soft on him or rather bush had hardened against cheney's advice. this was a participant in a recent meeting with the former vice president who said that he felt that bush during the second term was basically ignoring his advice. >> by way of full disclosure and accuracy, simon shuster bought the book, i'm with simon shuster, i was in the meeting, i'm working on the book. none of that happened. whoever this participant was is some figment of bart gelman's imagination. none of us spoke to him for that kind of story. secondly, we've known dick
cheney for 30 years. does he ever imply anything? the reason you all like to interview him is because he flat out says what he says. he's not going to from what i've seen in the book and heard in the book meetings and know what's taking place now, the man was in public service 40 years, worked for five presidents. he's going to talk about the career, what advice he gave and what wasn't taken, he now can explain what that was. that is not why that advice is rendered. it's not ipso facto maligning whatever president he worked for to give his own opinion. >> nothing's wrong with the former vice president of the united states writing his memoirs and trying to explain his side of the story for the historic record. >> if you put it that way. but if he trashes george w. bush, that would be -- >> you think he's going to trash george w. bush? >> by the way, i don't know bart gelman from boo, but he did win a pulitzer prize. he's quite a good journalist. i don't know the guy, but -- >> this is complete bs. cheney went on a left-wing assault or whatever, it's a
cut-and-paste job. i know who he didn't talk to who are the only people who know that what's going on. this is not about gelman, who has a cheney book that didn't sell as well as the steven hayes book, but this book is going to sell. it is one that people want for historical archives including a lot of liberals. it's going to be -- >>ly go to the library and -- >> i'll buy you a copy. >> this is important. royalty matters. dick cheney will be another grumpy retiree fishing in wyoming if not for george w. bush. i didn't support bush but i don't like these trash talk books after the fact. >> you're attacking a book before it's out, paul. >> i don't -- i hope you're right. >> i know i'm right. >> i'll read it in the library. >> mary makes a fair point. dick cheney has been attacked a lot in recent years. if he wants to sit down and defend himself, you got a problem with that? >> no. that's exactly what he's been doing. we already know he disagreed
with the president on whether or not scooter libby as chief of staff should be pardoned. we know some of this. >> it will be out in 2011. is that right? >> can't wait. >> guys, thanks very much. a ban from a public swimming pool for wearing, guess what, too much clothing. a women's battle whooefr they call a burquini. and as the u.s. military tries to win the war in afghanistan, it's also trying to win the hearts and minds of young muslims. a special report coming up from cnn's christiane amanpour.
>> reporter: it may be a bit surprising one french woman has been stopped from swimming at a municipal pool because she tried to jump in with too much clothing. but a muslim woman known only as carol told a paris newspaper she was banned from swimming with her children because she was wearing a head to ankle outfit known as a burquini. she told reporters she had no problems swimming in lakes and leisure camps baugh pool in a paris suburb, which also bans extra long shorts for hygienic reasons, said her costume did not conform to the rules. in an interview with a newspaper, she said she just wanted to go for a swim. >> translator: very happy to be at last able to swim with their mother. that's all. that's all i fight for. this is not a political fight or a religious fight. nothing to do with that. it's just about being able to swim in a swimming pool with my children, simply. >> reporter: still, one of the officials connected with a local swimming pool said rules are rules. >> translator: you can see the regulations on the poster.
swim in this pool like others with a swimming suits and a swimming cap after taking a shower. this woman purchased a ticket and showed up fully dressed and for a question of hygiene regulations, all the pools say you don't have the right to swim like this. >> reporter: the newspaper reporting the story the story of carol has received hundreds of e-mails about the issue, most in favor of the ban. said one, as western women must sometimes wear veils in islamic countries, there should be no problems of restrictions here. but dress codes are sensitive in france, that has the highest percentage of muslim population in the european union. after a ban on scarves in public schools, president sarkozy said full-length face-covering burqas worn by a tiny minority of muslim women here are not welcome in france because they have nothing to do with religion and everything to do with subservience of women. if anything, wolf, the burquini episode is prelude to a debate almost certain to unfold when a
parliamentary commission returns with a report for president sarkozy about possible ways to ban the burqa in france. wolf? >> jim bittermann in paris for us. thank you. as the u.s. military tries to win the war in afghanistan, it's also trying to win the hearts and minds of young muslims with books. but even that is still a very dangerous mission. our chief international correspondent, christiane amanpour, spent some time with u.s. troops building a new school just days after their unit was attacked by insurgents. >> reporter: right here in the middle of nowhere. it's an incredible sight. row upon row of school children organized into neat outdoor classes. >> one. two. three. >> reporter: several thousand students diligently counting in english. even at this age, they know that they want to communicate with the rest of the world.
i've never seen anything like this, all these children outside, almost like classes, open air. >> yeah. >> translator: it's difficult for them to study when their brains are boiling. >> reporter: the education director says that in his district alone 33,000 students are now studying outside in the sun. one is an afghan interpreter. >> american students much like themselves. >> reporter: doling out pens and pencils, dressed in full combat gear, major gary claw is trying his best to meet the needs here. he believes the children are the key to winning over their parents and eventually this war. >> if we can sway the civilian population and show them that
we're here to support their children, then they are going to in turn not support the bad guys that are coming in here. >> reporter: christiane amanpour reporting. by the way, she reveals the struggle for hearts and minds of the next generation of muslims and shows what happens in places from afghanistan to gaza and how it impacts all of us. christiane amanpour reports "generation islam," a two-hour cnn special event tonight 9:00 p.m. eastern. can she have it her bayway? president obama's pick for surgeon general, the nation's top health adviser an adviser to a burger chain? and they lost their loved one ins in the bombing of pan am flight 103. the libyan agent sentenced for that crime could be freed from prison. (announcer) illness doesn't care where you live...
...or if you're already sick... ...or if you lose your job. your health insurance shouldn't either. so let's fix health care. if everyone's covered, we can make health care as affordable as possible. and the words "pre-existing condition" become a thing of the past... we're america's health insurance companies. supporting bipartisan reform that congress can build on. they say imports always get the best mileage. well, do they know this malibu offers an epa estimated 33 mpg highway? they never heard that.
>> questions about her connection to the fast food giant is diverting attention from her service of sacrifice. a father who had diabetes. her impressive resume includes starting up a clinic for low income people in rural alabama. dr. regina benjamin is president obama's nominee for surgeon general. >> i can be a voice in the movement to improve our nation's health care in the nation's health for the future. >> reporter: some observers are doubting that because she has worked for burger king. part of a nutritional advisory panel for the fast food chain. officials say she used that position to advocate for lower sodium items on the menu and more calorie and fat information
on packaging. >> in my experiences the bottom line, that is the amount of food that gets sold, is what counts. public health really doesn't matter. it is considerably secondary, if not even lower on the agenda of food corporations. >> reporter: burger king says it has introduced several nutritional items to its menu nins that advisory board fast formed. what about conflict of interest. she has gotten more than $20,000 to serve on an advisory board for conagra, $12.5 billion a year. in addition for the $10,000 she has gotten for serving for the burger king board. one medical eth thist says this. >> if she was being paid a penny for every whooper burger king sold and she was sent out on a lecture tour where she would
encourage patients to eat as many whoppers as possible, i would say she would have a heck of a conflict of interest. i don't think that she is going to have a problem at all. >> health and human services officials tell us dr. benjamin will resign from those boards as soon as she is confirmed by the senate. they say, she will recuse herself from any matters involving those companies for two years. >> burger king's nutrition record, that was the subject of recent litigation. >> they were sued two years ago for putting trans fat in their foot. it was thrown out. burger king has told us since that time, it has stopped using trans fat in its cooking. >> they still serve whoppers? >> they do. some banks are now walking away from homes they forecloses on, guess what, leaving the families who are forced to move
out on the hook for property taxes and other expenses. this is a shocking story you will see only here on cnn i think i'll go with the preferred package. good choice. only meineke lets you choose the brake service that's right for you. and save 50% on pads and shoes. meineke. . tom. now, i know the catering business but when i walked in here i wasn't sure what i needed. i'm not sure what i need. tom showed me how to use mifi to get my whole team working online, on location. i was like, "woah". woah ! only verizon wireless has small business specialists in every store to help you do business better. you're like my secret ingredient. come in today and connect up to five devices on one 3g connection. now only $99.99
and as a progressive customer, you get to use any of our concierge claim centers. so i can just drop off my car and you'll take care of everything? yep, even the rental. what if i'm stuck at the office? if you can't come to us, we'll come to you in one of our immediate response vehicles! what if mother won't let me drive? then you probably wouldn't have had an accident in the first place. and we're walkin'! and we're walkin'... making it all a bit easier -- now that's progressive! call or click today. let's check in with jack
cafferty. >> the question is, should there be a limit on health care for elderly and terminally ill people. paul writes, i'm 48 years old, hiv positive and healthy. my answer is, yes. i don't understand all the money spent on the terminally ill. it appears to be primarily based on a fear of death. i have made my decision on this issue. my instructions for myself and my loved ones are, provide the necessary pain management, say good-bye and allow me to die naturally prefrably at home. christine writes, my mother had a hip replacement 13 months before she died of cancer. because of this, my mother was able to have a higher quality of life during her last year. she regained her driver's license, was able to play on the floor with her infant granddaughter. it was a tremendous benefit to her. while on paper, it makes no sense to do this, it needs to be done because it is the compassionate thing to do. jasmine says i'm a registered intensive care unit nurse.
far too many times i have seen the useless invasive procedures and tests we do on patients that make no difference on the outcomes. all of us see the suffering and the staggering cost. there has to be a better way of letting patients die in dignity and peace. one thing we are certain of is death. letting your doctor talk to you and your family about your choices is a good way to start. mary says less than six weeks before my father died, six weeks, doctors replaced a pacemaker in his heart. the cost of that, $60,000. when he died, the expensive device had to be thrown away. his heart beat was irregular. it was an undiagnosed cancer that killed him within one week of diagnosis. he was 87 years old. these decisions are tough but they should be made in consultation with the patients and the families and doctors that are motivated by common sense and care and not the fear of lawsuits or access to health insurance dollars. finally, r.k. says, life is a
terminal condition. at what point do we say enough is enough? when a doctor says you only have ten years left or five years or just a few snonts if you didn't see your e-mail, go to my blog at cnn.com/caffertyfile. look for yours there among hundreds of others. an overload of anger over health care reform. we will tell you why congress can't handle the massive response from constituents right now. plus, a situation room investigation. the secret to surviving an airplane crash. brian today goes behind the scenes with an elite team of crash detectives. what they have learned could save your life. only on cnn. they were booted from their homes. then, came a worse nightmare that could land them in jail. alina cho reports on a growing problem across the country. banks refusing to follow through on foreclosure. i'm wolf blitzer in cnn's command center for breaking news, politics and extraordinary
reports from around the world. you are in "the situation room." americans don't seem to be buying the expert's claims that the recession is ending, a day after the federal reserve sounded upbeat, we have downright gloomy mums to report. sales in stores fell in july. economists had expected an increase after two straight months of gain. even some cost-conscious walmart is feeling the pinch, a key measure of its sales unexpectedly drop that month. that's walmart. the number of americans filing first-time jobless claims jumped last month. economists did not see this one coming either. they thought jobs claims would go down. instead, they went up. let's bring in poppy harlow, cnnmoney.com. poppy, recovery, recession, what's going on here? >> wolf, let's talk about that. this is a mixed picture from the
reports. let's talk about weekly jobless claims. when you look at the number that came in 558,000, that was worse than economists were expecting. this is hard news to swallow because it comes just about a week or so after we got a july job reports that was better than expected, that showed us that unemployment was actually falling. the job picture shows us that things might not really be getting better. that is tough news for people to look at. however, on the flip side of that, some good news in the report that we got this morning from the government saying that those continuing unemployment claims are actually falling. that number still stands, wolf, at 6.2 million. that's a high number, wolf. that tells us the job picture is still very, very bleak in this country. >> how do the retail numbers factor in? >> it cuts to the heart of how consumers are feeling about the economy as a whole. few of us need all or most of
the things we buy. people feel more confident in the economy, they will spend more. that was not the case clearly in july. in order for the economy to turn around, the consumer has to pick up spending again. it is consumer spending that fuels 70% of all economic activity in this country. it's a huge, huge part of our gdp. wolf, as you said before, even walmart saw its sales fall last quarter. that's the first time they have seen their sales decline in more than a year. the bottom line, we are hearing the fed talk about recovery. we may be seeing some science of recovery. the american consumer just not feeling it. >> thanks very much, poppy. here is a boost, though, for the economy. millions of dollars are being spent on tv commercials about health care reform. we have a new breakdown from cnn's consultant on ad spending. check it out. support teres of the president's plan are outspending opponents by more than 2-1. the proobama camp spending almost $24 million.
the anti-obama camp spending about 9.5 million. another 24 million has been spend on people that weren't advocating a specific plan. the grand total so far, more than $57 million. that number will be going up and up and up. on top of all that, a new $12 million health care ad campaign starting today, designed to support the president's reform efforts. it's paid for by an unusual coalition of medical, pharmaceutical, industry, and labor groups targeting 12 states where there has been opposition to health care reform, including arkansas, a home state of conservative democrats. mike ross, a blue dog, as they call him shall the congressman has been meeting with his constituents today. let's go to the scene and cnn's congressional correspondent, brianna ke brianna keilar is joining us. >> reporter: we spoke with congressman, mike ross, he has been getting a lot of attention as you know because he is one of
the several blue dog democrats who forced democratic leaders to delay a full house vote on health care reform until after congress returns in september. now, congressman ross says this has caused him to get heat from both sides, from all around, that's convinced him that he is on the right path. >> i've got the extreme right saying that i caved on health care reform. i've got the extreme left saying that i got too much in the agreement and that i've watered down health care reform. so, you know, it's rare that you get both the extreme right and extreme left mad at you all at the same time. that tells me that maybe we've found the right balance here. you know, i believe that i'm in the middle. i believe that's where the majority of the american people are. >> reporter: we stopped on our way here in hope, arkansas, the home town of ross and former president clinton. we asked them what they thought.
we spoke with a couple not in favor. we spoke with another man who is in favor of this reform effort. he said that congressman ross is stuck between a rock and a hard place. certainly, congressman ross will be hearing all of these opinions tomorrow, wolf. he has a town hall event. we are expecting hundreds of people to attend it. >> we get together with you, brianna. explain one thing. he is a congressman from arkansas. the event was taking place across the border in texas. >> yes. we are in texarkana. it straddles the border between arkansas and texas. about 40% of the patients who come here are from arkansas and the employees. >> but you are in texas, right? >> reporter: in texas, two miles from arkansas. if you are trying to e-mail your representative about health care reform, you may be having some trouble. abbi tatton is joining us.
what's going on? >> wolf, so many people have been trying to e-mail their member of congress about health care this week. the system got overloaded. this is the page on the house of representative website where you can do just that. members of the public can contact their representative directly on line. there has been such a flood of traffic on this site this week with people wanting to make their voices heard about health care reform that house staffers on the hill are being told that they might find this slow and unresponsive. it isn't the first time that this happened. earlier this year, house service crashed what people were sounding off about at that point with the economic stimulus package. wolf? >> thanks very much. let's move to the trenches now with u.s. marines and afghanistan. they are facing tougher than expected resistance from taliban resurgence in the southern part of the country. elsewhere, one american and three british troops were killed in explosions today. defense secretary, robert gates, says a new assessment won't
contain any recommendation for troop increases. the report is expected after aan important milestone in afghanistan. the august 20th presidential election. >> some of the military operations that have taken place in the helmand province and other places in the south, it looks like more afghans will be able to vote than had been the kats before the recent deployment of additional u.s. forces. that's an encouraging development. in terms of the overall security situation in the country, my view and the view of most of our military commanders is that we are looking at a mixed picture. in some partings of afghanistan, the taliban have clearly established a president. >> the afghan president says he is ordering security to order a cease-fire on election day and asking insurgents to hold their fire during next thursday's vote. let's go to jack coverty for the
cafferty file. a plan to send national guard troops to the mexican border is being held up as our government bickers over the cost. president obama called for a 1,500 troop contingent to go to the border and help stop violence from the mexican drug cartels from spilling into the u.s. the temporary boost in troops estimated the cost about $225 million. while the president was in mexico this week, spouting empty rhetoric about the u.s. doing its part to secure the border and stem the flow of drugs and weapons and money, the program to put these national guard troops on the border is mired in arguments about how to pay for it. pentagon and homeland security are mostly hung up over the money but also issues about where the troops would be stationed, how about where the drug cartels are active? and what they would do? this is absurd. this country has done next to nothing meaningful about border
security since 9/11. michael ware did some excellent reporting on this. the mexican drug cartels are becoming stronger and more violent and richer every day. it is estimated drug violence has already killed 11,000 people. the u.s. border states are frustrated that they haven't gotten these extra troops they were promised. our government can't decide who is going to shell out the $225 million to pay for the program. no one is going to believe anything we say anywhere in the world eventually if this stuff goes on and on and on. here is the question. how serious is the united states about national security if the plan to send national guard troops to the mexican border is being held up over money? go to cnn.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog. >> thank you. some americans are getting hit with severe penalties for homes they have already lost.
jooerks we could spend 45 days in jail over this issue. >> wait until you see what's happening to some people out there across the country. why does sarah palin insist on saying something her fellow republicans insist is simply not true? he is in prison for a notorious act? there is outrage that he may soon be getting out. it's what doctors recommend most for headaches. for arthritis pain... in your hands... knees... and back.
this man sits in a jail convicted of one of the most notorious acts ever. after eight years in prison, guess what? he may soon be free. why? how do the victims loved ones feel about all this. we asked mary snow to take a closer look. >> reporter: scotland's justice minister says no decision has been made yet whether to release the man convicted of the 1988 lo locker by bombing. in britain, some feel he should be released. two decades after a bomb blew up
pan ac 103 killing 259 passengers and 11 people on the ground, wounds have been reopened and anger intensified over the face of this man al megrahi. he is the only person convicted in the bombing. the scottish government is considered releasing him on compassionate grounds. susan cohen is horrified. her only child was among the 189 americans killed in the terrorist attack. >> he is not going to get forgiveness from me. as far as i am concerned, he should die in prison and his soul rot in hell. >> reporter: other relatives are divided. in britain, some questions whether he should have been convicted at all. >> an innocent man who is dying of cancer away from his family and country, i think that reasonable humanity dictates he
should be transferred home. >> reporter: he was convicted of being the man who placed the deadly bomb in a suitcase and is serving a 27-year prison term. he has maintained his innocence all along and is appealing his conviction for a second time. bert, am merman, who lost his brother, tom, isn't buying it. >> a man was convicted. let's not have revisionist theorys on this. >> reporter: the scotland justice minister says he is taking all of these into consideration. >> i am making sure all have an opportunity to advise me of their views an feelings. >> reporter: a state department spokesman has said that the us has made it clear to the uk government and others that al megrahi should spend the rest of his time in jail. a new report shows foreclosure filings hit another record high in july of 32% from the year before.
there is a new angle to the crisis of the housing market here in the united states that we are now uncovering. cnn's alina cho has a story you will see only here on cnn. >> reporter: people whose homes have gone into foreclosure are finding out that the banks that seized them are walking away from them. it is leaving the homeowner confused and stuck with thousands of dollars in bills. when they found out the bank was taking possession of their home after they defaulted on their mortgage, they thought it was the worse day of their lives. they were wrong. >> we could spend 45 days in jail over this housing issue. >> reporter: does that seem ridiculous to you? >> it does to me because it's like, we don't own the house. >> reporter: they do own it. in november of 2006, a judge agreed the sharp's home was the bank's property and should be sold at auction.
the couple moved out but a year later, they learned bank of america never followed through on the foreclosure. in a statement, b of a told cnn, the bank has not foreclosed on the property and the customer still holds the title. the sharps are shocked and the practice is perfectly legal. >> a number of the properties have very little value left in them by the time they are reaching the end of the foreclosure process. if it is going to be more expensive to follow the foreclosure through and take the property, they won't do it. >> reporter: it is happening in cities across america, banks walking away from so-called toxic titles. the sharps are facing thousands in fines from the city of buffalo, new york, for property violations and unpaid taxes on top of the thousands they have already paid in court fees. daniel benning works as a housing court mediator. he calls the vacant homes vulnerable targets. >> these are attractive to
persons of criminal intent. the bank refuses to allow anyone to move in but they refuse to do anything to the property, as you can see. it affects not only this property but the properties next too them. >> reporter: the city of buffalo filed a lawsuit alleging 37 banks that walked away from foreclosed homes are responsible for the city's loss in property tax revenue and an increase in police and fire cost. as for the sharps -- >> when you look and you find that something you thought was gone is still there, okay, now it's, what's next? >> reporter: what is next? >> we have no idea. >> reporter: this is happening across america. hardest hit cities like detroit and flint, michigan. places with older housing stocked with declining value. the banks don't think it is worth their wile to pay all of the legal and administrative fees that come with foreclosing
on a home. wolf rg they are simply walking away. >> what a story that is. that's amazing. thanks very much. i did not know that. sarah palin rails against death panels but is she betting any possible political future on what fellow republicans are characterizing as a wild rumor? rick pitino apologizing for his extramarital affair. is that good enough for the university of louisville?
frid fredricka whitfield is following other stories. a 72-year-old campbell brinls w bridges was attacked outside a mining camp and killed. in the 1960s, he discovered an extremely rare green gem stone mined in tanzania and kenya. the university of louisville is standing by basketball coach, rick pitino, who has publicly
apologized for having extramarital sex six years ago. the woman is charged with trying to blackmail him. she says the sex was not con sensual. prosecutors say they are not charging him because of a lack of evidence. the coach says he will stay with louisville as long as allowed. no matter what kind of modern music you listen to, it likely wouldn't exist as you know it without this man, les paul. he died today in white maiplain new york. he created the legendary guitar that bears his name and other innovations that make possible the kind of music we enjoy ut right now. he was 94 years old. >> indelible mark. >> our deepest condolences to his family. thanks very much for that, fred. the next time you get on an
airplane, remember this. >> tell me about the myth and about how you wanted to stall it. >> brian todd helps uncover the secrets of surviving an airplane accident. if you are planning on flying, it's a situation room investigation. sarah palin is at it again. she is defending her claim that the president's health care reform plan would create death panels. we are checking her facts.
our brian todd has a situation room investigation that could save your life. brian? >> wolf, at this traping center, ntsb officials look at everything from the minnesota bridge collapse a couple years ago. here is some real wreckage from that. to plane crashes all over the united states. one small team dedicated to dispelling one of the most common myths about aviation disaster. sifting through twisted metal. this is all about impact, blunt force, g-force. >> right. this is like documenting. >> reporter: acting like a csi detective on a crash-tested seat. >> we could say the taller person. >> reporter: we are behind the scenes at the ntsb's training center in northern virginia where an elite go-team of investigators has one mission, figure out why people live and die in plane crashes. laura marshall leads the human performance and survival factors division. >> reporter: tell me about the myth and how you want to dispel it. >> one of the myth is is that if
you are involved in an airplane accident, you are not going to survive. that's not true. >> reporter: even horrific crashes like this one in 1939 are survivable. about two-thirds of the people got out alive. one key reason you can make it out these days, equipment enhancements, passenger air bags. now, some smuler planes could soon be recommended for wider use. >> reporter: is this proven to prevent injury? >> there is a lot of testing that shows that these provide protection. >> reporter: she says they will likely only be in seats that don't have cushions in front of them, like bulk heads. other ideas, flight attendants have shoulder straps, why not passenger seats. >> there is a little bit of a technological challenge to put in 3-point belts on all the seats. >> reporter: he says the ntsb once looked at outfitting planes
with smoke hoods for passengers but nixed that. >> once you had a plane on the ground and if there was the threat of fire, we wanted everyone to be focused on getting off the plane in 90 seconds or less. we did not want people fumbling around in their seats looking for a smoke hood to put it on. >> reporter: they say the innovations that have made it into passenger planes over the past two decades have been crucial. >> they have redesigned the interior of the planes so that the materials used do not emit toxic gases when they are burning or smoldering. >> we've improved the chance of survival by improving seat strength, by building airplanes that can withstand crash forces. >> an example of that, little rock, june, 1999. landing in a thunderstorm. american airlines flight 1420 slides off the runway.
it impacts a light structure, splits open, fire breaks out in the app section. look at the seats. much of the cabin destroyed. many of the seats remain relatively intact. here is one survivor's account. >> there was a gap in the side of the fuselage. a big old gash. outside of that, i found two people in a field that were strapped in their chair, both alive and doing okay. >> reporter: martial and other ntsb officials say the crashes you won't survive are those where planes break up at high altitude or when there is high velocity impact with the ground like the 1996 value jet crash in the everglades. those accidents, they say, are very rare in major commercial aviation. >> there are far more accidents where there are survivors and there are chances for people to tur vif. >> reporter: like hard landings
such as this 2002 emergency touchdown ad jfk. nearly 400 on board. everyone out alive. runway overshoot, ground collisions are more common. crucial to survival, human behavior. flight crews are better trained than ever to get people out. marshall pointed out that on takeoff in denver, the 2005 overrun of an air france jet? toronto and the hudson river landing, the number of people killed in all three accidents, zero. she says, passengers still need to be sharper in the cabin, the former flight attendant takes me through an evacuation drill. >> release seatbelts, get out. why are you blocking your aisle to get your carry-on? leave it behind. your closest exit, right here. how do you open that? did you look at your briefing card? do you know how the exit opens? did you know there was an exit
right behind you? >> reporter: in 20 seconds, i have made xlee common mistakes that could get me and others killed. many passengers do get it. in little rock, 134 out of the 145 people on board survived including one man who scrambled out with the seat still on his back. >> he hauled away from the airplane and it wasn't until he got to this area that he realized he hadn't unfastened his seatbelt. >> major commercial airline accidents are still very rare. if it does happen to you and you survive the incompetent is impact, there are very simple factors under your control, very simple steps you can take to improve your odds dramatically. wolf? >> good information. brian todd, thanks very much. sarah palin issues a facebook manifesto against those so-called death panels. is she just stirring up a health care rumor?
fellow at the institute, candy crowley and mia malika henderson. first, jessica yellin. >> if you remember when town hall events were dull gatherings where people asked questions and listened to answers, that seems so quaint compared to this. >> just say no, just say no, just say no. >> funny, they don't sound like they are there to listen and learn. today's town hall shoutfest don't leave much room for discussion. that's because the loudest folks, the ones getting the most attention are arriving with their minds made up. many were encouraged to attend by groups on the left or the right. he